Originally Posted on: July 13th, 2012
Marquis catches up with author Charlie J.J. Kruger to talk about his newest book release 'Setting Son: A Haunting' for a Horror-Punks Exclusive Interview.
H-P: Well, first off. You the mastermind behind 'Overdue Exorcism". You write the lyrics and the bass lines and groove of the music. What made you decide to start writing stories?
CJJ: Haha, well i wouldnt say 'mastermind'. Doug (the guitarist and other vocalist) is brilliant, and he is a mean player. he does a HUGE amount of the music, and tackles every lead like a champ. haha. he has done some great co-writing of lyrics on a few songs (Crossdress The Dead, and As We Eat Your Brains, and he wrote all the lyrics for My Emily) he is a great guy to work with. but yeah, i do write pretty much all the lyrics, and it is sort of an outgrowth of years of writing. i have been performing in bands, recording, doing shows, and bleeding this life since i was 11. i have always wanted to be an author, and i have always loved reading just as much as listening to music and watching movies. I have been writing short stories and poems for the longest time, and i have had a bunch published in different journals, periodicals, and collections. But with these books, it feels like i am finally living my complete dream, you know?
H-P: Did you find it difficult to go from telling a story in a few verses to pages of a storyline?
CJJ: You know, its funny that you say that. with my other bands i try to communicate emotions or messages with my lyrics, but with Overdue Exorcism i made a decided effort to tell narratives. i wanted to tell little stories in each song, and i think (hell i hope) that i succeeded with that. every album that Overdue Exorcism puts out is really just a collection of short stories, screamed and sung over the best music that Doug and i can come up with. a lot of the songs that we have released are actually based on short stories of mine, or they take elements from books or movies that have impacted me and make them my own, putting myself in the shoes of a character. i have always thought that storytelling is the only thing i wanna do, so between music and my writing its really working out. so, to answer your question directly, no, it wasnt hard at all to transition the styles. in fact, i think that if you read through my novels you will find a lot of rhythm and phrasing in both my words and the structure.
H-P: So can ya tell us about "Setting Son - A Haunting"?
CJJ: 'Setting Son - A Haunting'... well, its about trust and regret. the two main characters are this married couple that are falling apart after the death of their young son. his death comes right before they move into a new house, one that they bought to raise him in. once they move in, the husband starts to feel like things arent right, and it carries from there. this book is really an unsettling story, there are these terrors and pains in it that were excruciating to write. i pitied and hated these characters as i wrote them, there is a lot to them, and it grows. there is more and more to them as the book goes on, the reader sees more of who they are and more of why they are as the pages move. unsettling is really the best word for it i think. and yes, the title is intentional. their son's death is really the springboard for a lot of things in the book.
H-P: What was you inspiration for the story?
CJJ: Well, i had been toying with the basic idea for a while. i just finished a long cross-country trip on my own, sleeping in greyhound buses and just seeing America... and when i got to New Jersey, where my family is from, i decided it was time to flesh out the story and give life to it. the characters are inspired by fears of mine, dreams that i hope never come real. there is even actually a song about this book on a new album i am working on.
H-P: Tell us a little bit about 'Spoken Tombstones'.
CJJ: This book is about a lot of things, spirits, honesty, regret, love, and the darkest recesses of the soul. the book takes place in the dusty nothingness of a young and expanding American western frontier. a battered and retreating division of soldiers, put out in the middle of nowhere to keep order take up shelter in a beaten old fort, miles away from the nearest town. meanwhile a small wagon-train led by a rich landowner takes refuge at the fort to avoid a confrontation with a vicious pair of brothers. the purity of intentions, and the darkness of actions clash in this one. i am really happy with the struggles and the conquests in this one. there are a lot of distinct characters who all are a mirror to things in my life, both good and bad. even though there are touches of the supernatural and the spiritual int he book, it is a very honest, and very brutal and even cannibalistic account of when the right thing is the hardest choice possible.
H-P: What inspired you to write this kind of a story?
CJJ: This book was inspired by Howard Hawks movies, Assault on Precinct 13 (the original, obviously), and the legend of the Wendigo. all these things, and my own desire to, again, mirror parts of my own fears and dreams.
H-P: Now you've also just released two more books as well. Floating On Salt & Clowntown: An Oral History Of The Worlds First Red Nose Utopia. Can ya tell us about them?
CJJ: Yeah! well, these two are not horror based. believe it or not, there are actually moments in my life that arent based around horror-media. they are few and far between, but long enough for me to write two novels. haha. 'Floating On Salt' is a story about a family that has to put itself back together after the death of the mother. the two brothers, and all their psychological baggage are both based on two distinct parts of myself. two different elements within me that i have to fight it out with constantly. the sister is based on two very, very important people to me, and her husband is based on one of my oldest friends, and a former partner in musical crime of mine. this book is really heavy in a lot of ways, and i am extremely proud of it, if only because of how honest it is about my own life and personality. i actually strongly recommend this one for anyone who has identified with some of the more personal Overdue Exorcism lyrics.
'Clowntown' is a fictitious 'oral history' book, like a Studs Terkel book, but fake. its like a mockumentary, like 'Spinal Tap', or 'Waiting For Guffman'. The story is that a group of clowns grow tired of all the mocking and stereotyping they are victim to, and they decided to fight back by moving into a small town in southern New Jersey. slowly they buy up all the land, fill all the jobs, and take it over from garbage men to government. the book is an extreme allegory of a lot of real life issues. things like homophobia, class-war, racism, bigotry, sexism, jingoism, religious persecution, race riots, the Israel/Palestine debate, exploitative film-making, corruption, and other issues are all touched on and presented through the eyes of the clowns who suffer from the issues. it can be really dark at time, but (again, i hope) very funny at others. it is a little more in line with some of my lyrics for other bands, but again, for anyone who has liked the messages in some of my lyrics, this book is a comedic parody of the real things that drive me to create.
H-P: So you've just released 4 books. What's next?
CJJ: Well, i hate to announce projects before i have them close enough to done that i KNOW they will be finished. but i am going to be setting up a new gigging/touring band in late August out in Olympia, Washington, we will be a sort of Slayer meets the Misfits with a touch of the Cro-Mags kinda deal. i am also working on 2 more novels, one of which is close to done, and another is in the budding stages. i am also planning on doing a lot more painting and graphic design work. there is also another new project, a new album that will be a total solo project, drums, bass, guitar, vocals, piano, all of it. its going to be horror film based, and a concept album. i will be announcing all the details about it when i am a little further along, but dont worry, Horror-Punks will be VERY aware of this release. haha. so yeah, another band, more books, some visual works, and a special surprise project that i will be unveiling in the next few months.
H-P: Can you tell us what 'Overdue Exorcism" is up to these days?
CJJ: Well, after 4 albums in less than two years, we are working on our fifth one, 'The Hangings On Niagara Street' right now. this album is looking like a 20+track album, if we used all the songs i have ready and all the parts Doug has written it would be closer to 40, but we want to make sure every track on this one is killer, because this is going to be our last album for a while. Doug is finally settling down to record his solo album that he has been working on (on and off) for something like 14 years now, and i can not WAIT to hear it. so we are going to be burying Overdue Exorcism after this last CD. but dont worry, it'll be a shallow grave. once he gets his solo album out, and i have my new 'secret' project out, i will be playing some shows in support of my other bands, doing some more music, and by this time next year, we will most likely be sitting down to start up work on the sixth album. i hope at least.
H-P: Any final words?
CJJ: of course! haha. i want to thank you for havin me here again and supporting the horror scene in all the ways that you do! i also wanna thank the guys in Darrow Chemical Company, Blitzkid, Vagora, and the one and only MISTER MONSTER for being such cool guys, helping us out, and giving me music that has helped to fuel me along this road. also, you can check out my personal website here charliejackjosephkruger.com and as time goes on i will be updating it more and more to include everything im working on, stories, paintings, books, music, and other self-absorbed ramblings.
H-P: Well, we look forward to your new releases and wish you much success in your future endeavors. Thanks for taking the time.
Visit Charlie J.J. Kruger online: charliejackjosephkruger.com